BBC Sport has extended its commitment to screen free-to-air coverage of the British Darts Organisation’s World Professional Championships until 2016.
The new deal was announced on the eve of the 2013 tournament beginning at the famous Lakeside Country Club in Frimley Green, and will extend the BBC’s long-standing partnership with the BDO to almost 40 years.
From 2014, when the BBC’s new TV deal begins, the Lakeside World Professional Championships will be expanded for the first time to include 40 men and 16 women.
“This is wonderful news for the BDO, its players and the millions of darts fans who tune in to watch the BBC’s outstanding coverage,” says Sue Williams, BDO Chairperson.
“The BBC is the premier broadcaster in the world, and we are proud that they have screened every World Professional Darts Championship annually since 1978.
“We are delighted to be celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the BDO with the continuation of the best and only free-to-view terrestrial TV coverage for World Darts.”
Since 1994 there have been two rival world championships, with the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) version screened by Sky Sports.
While the PDC has nine major UK televised tournaments throughout the calendar year, the BDO in comparison only has two – the World Championships and the Winmau World Masters.
Barbara Slater, Director BBC Sport added: “The World Darts Championships are an important part of our sports rights portfolio and we look forward to bringing our audiences this great tournament through to 2016.”
Precise details regarding the breadth of the BBC’s coverage from 2014 onwards have yet to announced.
The corporation currently shares live coverage of the competition with ESPN, but the future of the subscription broadcaster’s UK operation is in doubt beyond the summer once their Premier League rights deal expires.
UPDATE: Wednesday 4th December 2014
The British Darts Organisation has confirmed that the 2014 Lakeside World Professional Championships will be televised exclusively by the BBC.
There will be live darts every afternoon from Monday to Thursday between 1.00pm and 4.15pm, plus a highlights programme every evening in a post-11.00pm slot.
Live coverage of the evening sessions – shown by ESPN over the past two years – will return to free-to-air television in 2014 and will be broadcast in full via the BBC Red Button and online.
As usual, the men’s final will be shown live on BBC Two. The women’s final will also be televised live.
With the BDO’s expanded version of the World Championships returning solely to terrestrial TV, featuring 40 players in the men’s draw and 16 players in the women’s competition, more viewers than ever will be able to watch all the action unfold with the tournament fields
The Championship starts on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 1pm with nine-times women’s world Champion Trina Gulliver taking on Tamara Schuur, followed by the reigning BDO men’s world champion Scott Waites beginning his quest to retain his Lakeside title against Alan Norris.
The reigning women’s champion Anastasia Dobromyslova will take to the stage on Sunday afternoon in a bid to make it three titles in a row.